Cates’ brother, Matthew, talked to Channel 3 about how his sister will be remembered.
“I will remember her every time I see a stray animal now. I have to fight the urge to pick it up because that's what she would have done and I will remember her for her smile and her laugh. She had a laugh that people would recognize,” said Matthew Cates.
He says he had recently encouraged his sister to move into a new apartment and to live on her own for the first time. But he says she was reluctant to do so.
“She was just a little timid as far as living on her own. She'd always had roommates, lived with relatives and so forth and always had someone there so the thought of living on her own is what scared her. She didn't have the confidence that she could do that,” Cates told Channel 3.
But after settling in he says his sister seemed happy.
Then just a few weeks later, the family received some devastating news that Ashley had been murdered.
Chattanooga Police arrested her neighbor, Tyrone Murphy, 57, and charged him with the crime.
Investigators say he broke into her apartment and stabbed her several times.
Ashley’s family is now left with many questions and is beginning the healing process.
"She was just a young girl that was trying to find her foot in the world and trying to put her stamp on adulthood,” said Cates.
Remarkably, Matthew Cates says he’s found a way to forgive his sister’s accused killer.
“I would like to say that I forgive him and that he made a terrible mistake and I'd like to let him know that he took more than just my sister. He took a friend. He took a daughter, cousin and it's a lot more than just my sister,” he told Channel 3.
Cates says he does not believe his sister was targeted. He describes it as a crime of opportunity and believes the attack was random.
The autopsy report shows that Ashley Cates was cut and stabbed more than 20 times in her arms, legs, neck and chest.